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EID: Social justice has been hijacked by politics

Protests can be an agent of change in a democracy, but partisan politics threaten to dilute their meaning and weaken their impact. – Photo by Photo by Salma HQ | The Daily Targum

The gruesome, unwarranted murder of George Floyd by a white policeman in Minneapolis has shown a light on the plight of Black people in America. Unfortunately, it has also shown the disgusting, political division that is preventing healing and meaningful change from happening in this country.

Real social justice in the United States can be achieved. Black people should be able to walk down the street without the fear of being killed by police. But both the Left and Right have once again hijacked a righteous movement to fit their own agendas.

To start, there is a disturbing tendency on the Right to bluntly deny the existence of systemic racism. Whether it is housing discrimination or higher rates of maternal mortality, it is a proven fact that Black people are often treated as a underclass in the United States. Yet, conservatives have difficulty acknowledging that some of their fellow Americans have a harder time in life than the average white person.

Fox News personalities and President Donald J. Trump supporters have consistently minimized racial inequality. They believe the quality of a Black person's life has essentially been the same as the quality of a white person's ever life ever since Martin Luther King Jr. led the civil rights movement. So, Black people have nothing to complain about, according to their mindset. Thus, whenever Black people complain of police brutality, conservatives dismiss them. In turn, this leads to the Right continually taking the side of the police, even when injustice and brutality is obvious.

All too often, some conservatives have used racist rhetoric via victim-blaming, saying Floyd or Jacob Blake “resisted arrest,” despite videos showing only minor confrontations. Even so, was it necessary for a cop to take their lives away? If the person “resisting arrest” was white, the confrontation would have been resolved peacefully because the police would have seen them as less of a threat. This is the systemic racism that the Right cannot come to grips with.

Moreover, instead of focusing on the calls for justice coming from the protest movements that arose from the killing of Floyd, conservatives are focusing almost exclusively on the looting and riots being perpetrated by a minority of protesters. Although the majority of the protests from the Black Lives Matter movement have been peaceful, conservatives ignore that side of the protests, as it is easier to vilify the Left that way. By doing this, the pressing need for racial justice is sidetracked by partisan banter.

As is common in this country, though, the Left acts just as illogically as the Right. Even though the protests have been largely peaceful, there is a significant minority of protesters — mostly white anarchists — that have caused unnecessary destruction to neighborhoods and businesses. 

In the interest of supporting the protests unequivocally, liberals have ignored this looting by anarchists, most of whom care less for racial equality and more for the puerile advancement of their destabilizing agenda. As a result of the destruction, extremist Right-wing vigilantes have taken to the streets and even murdered protesters.

Another distressing strategy of the Left is to espouse radical ideas and solutions to combat police brutality. Two of the slogans that have emerged from the protests are “Defund the Police” and “Abolish the Police.” The rationale is that the police are irredeemably racist and that reform is impossible. This is born out of deep frustration from repeated cases of police brutality.  

Defunding the police sounds like a somewhat legitimate cause, and it sort of is. Increased funding for social services is needed and would indeed benefit minorities. Yet simply taking money away from the police will not necessarily stop police brutality against Black people. There will still be incidents of Black people getting killed by police. The only thing that would change about police departments is they would have less resources to fight actual crimes.

If the “Defund the Police” is a misguided movement but with good intentions, then the “Abolish the Police” movement is patently absurd. Again, the argument is that police are too racist to continue to exist and that people can create self-defense organizations as an alternative — progressive Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) gave credence to the idea

Seriously, no civilized society functions without a police force. If you want to know what a police-absent society would be like, look up the once-anarchist haven Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, which saw harassment and several shootings — some of them fatal.

But all these proposals put up by the Left are a distraction from pursuing social justice for Black people. These extreme positions being put forward are merely radical offshoots growing out of a certain political ideology, not an honest and rational desire for justice. 

Just like their ideological foes on the Right, progressives are more interested in ideology than real change. Absurd and radically nonsensical thoughts — in my opinion even the Black Lives Matter organization pointlessly dilutes its focus by aiming to “disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family” — serve no one.

I believe that what this country needs is not racist apathy from the Right or radical anarchism from the Left. America needs greater police accountability, better police training, justice for those killed by police and improved police-community collaboration.  

It is important to remember: Black lives matter, not political ideology.

Alexander Eid is a School of Arts and Sciences junior majoring in journalism and media studies. His column, "Keeping it Real," runs on alternate Thursdays.


*Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.

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